My name is Lester Jenkins and I would like to share a little about myself and the Oakdale Police Department with all of you. I was recently named as Oakdale’s Interim Police Chief, replacing Marty West, who was our chief for the last five years.
Let me say first, that I consider the appointment an honor and will work very hard to earn your confidence through honesty and hard work. We have a very capable and bright workforce here at the Oakdale Police Department, so my job will be basically setting goals, maintaining standards and giving fellow employees the tools that they need to get the job done.
But, back to where I came from. I was born in Germany as the first of three children to a couple brought together by the cold war. A German mother and an American military father who would settle and raise a family in a town called Modesto.
I grew up primarily in Modesto and graduated from Downey High School. I spent a little time in the U.S. Army, then after returning to Modesto I married my wife, Kathy. I landed a manufacturing job at the Proctor and Gamble Paper plant on Crowslanding Road.
Kathy and I had a son and we relocated to Oakdale in 1984 to get away from the “hustle and bustle of the big city.” Modesto had grown fourfold in the time that I lived there and everyone seemed to be in a constant rush to get from point A to B. Having traveled through Oakdale countless times on the way to the mountains, we were drawn to it by its personality and small town charm.
I made a career switch to law enforcement following recommendations of other family members that were already in the field.
I began with the Oakdale Police Department in July of 1990 and worked hard to learn a career that was much different from anything that I had done before. I loved the excitement and the feeling of accomplishment that came with helping people in my community.
My hobbies were archery, fishing, camping, and building Camaros. I gradually had to set aside my hobbies so I could to return to school and focus on my career. I attended MJC and then Chapman University for the college education required to promote in the field of law enforcement.
In 1999, I was fortunate enough to promote to lieutenant where I was able to work closely with several police chiefs. I also signed up for several leadership classes over the years that were available through the department.
After 22 years with the Oakdale Police Department I was appointed to the position of Interim Police Chief. My overall strategies are as follows; we need to become “leaner” and more efficient as a department in these times of limited resources. We need continue to use technology, re-look at the way we day our business, and eliminate non-essential steps and services so that we can provide the critical services that keep citizens safe and maintain the small town amenities that we all cherish.
To do this we will have to work even more closely with citizens. Law enforcement can only be marginally successful without the help of citizen groups, schools, hospitals and businesses. If we agree that we want to maintain or improve what we have in this lovely little town, then we are all going to have to work hard together.
Lester Jenkins is the Interim Police Chief for the City of Oakdale and a local resident. Look for more ‘Community Corner’ columns from community and business leaders in the weeks ahead.